Dashing Tweeds: heritage and technology

Kirsty McDougall

The intention of this research is to explore the relationship between technology and traditional production techniques within woven textiles, to help the textile industry consider more localised material development and production. As co-founder of design companies Hills McDougall and Dashing Tweeds, I have been exploring these ideas through our own production and use of mills in England and Scotland. Fabrics and garments are inspired by the urban landscape and often include ‘hidden technology’. Clients do not always want to wear fabrics which are obviously contain a technological function but are interested in the idea of something recognisable- such as tweed- that conceals this element. A current collaboration with Harris Tweed (shown in the BBC 4 Documentary ‘Tweed’) examines the following questions: can localised production of fabric at all levels, not just the ‘cottage’ or ‘craft’ sector, provide a more environmentally sustainable option for textile production? How would this work in terms of the economy? How do the notions of ‘heritage’ and ‘technology’ exist together in one piece of cloth? How does the application of technology to a heritage fabric change its narrative, function and identity?  In this case study, Harris Tweed is used as a ‘carrier’ for technical and functional yarns. The work also explores the notion of the memory and perception of ‘heritage fabric aesthetics’ and how these are altered by the application of technology to traditional woven fabrics.